Saturday, May 2, 2009

FedEx Aims for 30 Percent Biofuels by 2030

By ClimateBiz Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- FedEx wants a third of its jet fuel to come from biofuels by 2030, the company’s chief executive said Wednesday in a speech delivered during a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit.

The target, dubbed “30 by 30,” aims to take advantage of second-generation biofuels from feedstocks such as jatropha, algae, switchgrass and camelina, as first reported by GreenWire. FedEx provided text of Smith's remarks to

“Its goal is 30 percent alternative fuel use for aviation by 2030,” said Fred Smith, FedEx’s CEO and chairman. “And we pledge our support for environmentally friendly alternative fuel projects, which should be stepped up by funds designated for fuel research in the current stimulus package.”

There have been four successful biofuel demonstration flights during the last year, Smith said, using blends of petroleum and jatropha, algae and camelina.

The company is trading in the MD-11s it uses on long-range international routes for new 777Fs, as well as old 727s for new 757s, which are 47 percent more fuel-efficient.

FedEx has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its worldwide air operations by 20 percent by 2020, per available ton mile. Since 2005, it has reduced aircraft emissions by 3.7 percent by pound per available ton mile.

Smith also pushed for electrifying road transportation; its FedEx vans drive less than 100 miles per day. “I realize this isn’t an aviation issue, but we already have the infrastructure for electrification and going electric for short-haul can affect the amount of petroleum much more than biofuel use for aviation,” he said.

While the environmental push is part of the company’s long-term strategy, Smith also lobbied for an overhaul of the country’s decrepit air traffic control system, which he contends has the potential to reduce aviation greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent to 12 percent.

The Next Generation Air Transportation System will modernize communication, navigation and surveillance technologies and has already showed great promise in reducing air congestion, making routes more direct and increasing aviation safety.

FedEx and rival United Parcel Service are already saving money and fuel using continuous descents in Memphis and Louisville, while flights in Atlanta were able to shave 2.5 minutes from each flight, generating savings of about $105 million since 2006.

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Time Warner to spin off AOL

U.S. telecommunications giant Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX) said it would spin off "one or more parts" of its struggling AOL division.

The company said its board had not made a firm decision on how to proceed. In its first quarter report, Time Warner said it "anticipates that it would initiate a process to spin off one or more parts of the business of AOL to Time Warner's stockholders, in one or a series of transactions," The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Time Warner bought AOL in 2001, but few advantages were realized. Time Warner's net income in the first quarter declined 14 percent from a year ago, largely due to declining revenues at AOL, Time Warner's first quarter report said.

In March, Time Warner replaced two AOL top executives with former Google executive Tim Armstrong. At that point, market analysts began to speculate that the company would spin off AOL.

Earlier this month in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Time Warner proposed a debt revision in which the company would guarantee AOL debt using proceeds from HBO, rather than AOL, the Post said.

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More bonuses for Citigroup's bankers? Yes

by Douglas McIntyre

Citigroup (C) has gone to the Treasury to beg for bonuses for some of its most important traders, people who make the banks extraordinary amounts of money. The Treasury’s reaction will probably be that it wants to stay out of a fight with Congress and avoid negative public opinion and will turn the request down.

That would be a mistake.

Wall Street’s primary argument for keeping a high level of compensation for its best investment bankers and traders is that if they leave, overall losses at banks could get worse. People can be profit centers. The most successful ones help offset the red ink created by the series of poor decisions big financial firms made about mortgage-backed paper and commercial credit loans.

It is easy to assess the value of the best traders by looking at a bank’s books.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Citi is asking to lift “pay restrictions that could break apart its legendary energy-trading unit.” If the government turns the request down, it is likely that many of these people will leave for hedge funds, start their own businesses or join banks based outside the U.S. The bank is not making an idle statement. If critical people leave, so does critical income.

The government is going to have to come to grips with the fact that banks have to pay the best bankers even if the idea is unpopular. There is nothing new in this argument, but it is extremely urgent that it be resolved.

The results of bank “stress tests” are about to come out and some firms will be asked to raise capital. One of the banks’ key arguments for keeping new investment to a minimum is that they have some divisions that are highly profitable and will contribute to earnings to help offset losses. Once the government takes away the opportunity for those business to be a success by helping to drive the people who run them out the door, it will insure that its investment in financial firms will only grow.

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This Is What 400 Grand Looks Like

By Eric S. Page

Nearly $400,000 of suspected drug money was confiscated at the San Clemente Border Patrol checkpoint on Monday afternoon during a traffic stop on southbound Interstate 5.

The dough was hidden in the rear quarter panels of the car -- and that's not all: Investigators said they found counterfeit bills, too. Agents said they searched the Volkswagen Golf near the San Clemente Border Patrol checkpoint because the driver was nervous.

The suspect is a Mexican national. He's in federal custody, charged with (here's a new one on us) "bulk cash smuggling."

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Egypt orders slaughter of all pigs over swine flu

An Egyptian Health worker sprays chemicals to disinfect a local pig farm in

By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF, Associated Press Writer

CAIRO – Egypt began slaughtering the roughly 300,000 pigs in the country Wednesday as a precautionary measure against the spread of swine flu even though no cases have been reported here yet, the Health Ministry said.

The move immediately provoked resistance from pig farmers. At one large pig farming center just north of Cairo, farmers refused to cooperate with Health Ministry workers who came to slaughter the animals and the workers left without carrying out the government order.

"It has been decided to immediately start slaughtering all the pigs in Egypt using the full capacity of the country's slaughterhouses," Health Minister Hatem el-Gabaly told reporters after a Cabinet meeting with President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt's overwhelmingly Muslim population does not eat pork due to religious restrictions. But the animals are raised and consumed by the Christian minority, which some estimates put at 10 percent of the population.

Health Ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman estimated there were between 300,000-350,000 pigs in Egypt.

Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza told reporters that farmers would be allowed to sell the pork meat so there would be no need for compensation.

In 2008, following fears over diseases spread by animals, Mubarak ordered all pig and chicken farms moved out of population areas. But the order was never implemented.

Pigs can be found in many places around Muslim world, often raised by religious minorities who can eat pork. But they are banned entirely in some Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Libya.

In Jordan, the government decided Wednesday to shut down the country's five pig farms, involving 800 animals, for violating public health safety regulations.

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Mexico Senate OKs bill to legalize drug possesion

Mexico's Senate approved a bill on Tuesday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of narcotics for personal use, in order to free resources to fight violent drug cartels.

The bill, proposed by conservative President Felipe Calderon, would make it legal to carry up to 5 grams (0.18 ounces) of marijuana, 500 milligrams (0.018 ounces) of cocaine and tiny quantities of other drugs such as heroin and methamphetamines.

Mexico's Congress passed a similar proposal in 2006 but the bill was vetoed by Calderon's predecessor Vicente Fox, under pressure from the United States, which said it would increase drug abuse, but now is worried by the drug-related violence along its border.

Calderon has staked his presidency on curtailing the escalating violence between rival drug gangs as they fight over smuggling routes to the United States, with violence spilling into U.S. cities like Phoenix and Tucson.

Calderon was praised by U.S. President Barack Obama this month for his army crackdown in a visit to the Mexican capital and Washington is sending more agents to its side of the border to curb the flow of guns and cash to the cartels.

Drug violence has killed 2,000 people this year across Mexico after 6,300 deaths in 2008.

The bill, which needs to be approved by the lower house, also allows Mexican states to convict small-time drug dealers, no longer making it a federal crime to peddle drugs. Drug dealers are rarely convicted in Mexico as federal courts are saturated with bigger cases and local judges cannot interfere.

Mexico's Congress convenes for a final session before its recess on Thursday but may call an extraordinary session given the outbreak of deadly swine flu in the country that has forced lawmakers to hold sessions behind closed doors to prevent further contagion. (Reporting by Miguel Angel Gutierrez, editing by Patricia Zengerle)

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